There is an intensity to the early days of parenting, no matter what your style.
My style happened to be of the 24/7 hands-on variety. Intense was my normal.
We chose this path not because it was "better" than that of my friends who hired babysitters or were comfortable handing kids off to grandparents for a weekend (or a week) away, but simply because it fit who we were and who our children were. We found what worked for us. We listened to our inner voice.
And really, I can't think of a better way to choose your parenting strategy.
So many things inform how each of us chooses to parent our kids.
What is resonant to our hearts or our financial reality. What we believe will serve them best as they grow into adulthood or the neighbor your family calls home.
For me it boiled down largely to being the highly sensitive parent of a highly sensitive child. Add Sage's seizure history to the story line and nothing else made sense. And the all-day, all-night mamathon was born.
The quiet longing for a weekend away paled in comparison to the need to stay beside my little one – always – just in case.
You find your new normal. You adapt.
And that was how the early days quietly melted into years and our new normal became "together all the time".
Honestly, it stopped being hard and started being what we all appreciated about the way in which we crafted our life. I wanted nothing more that what we already had. It was our natural state of being. There was this openheartedness at the helm of our family, leading us from babyhood onward.
If you're lucky you find a friend who "gets it" and is doing things in a way that somewhat resembles your life.
Because honestly, there's nothing quite like finding someone who makes you feel normal.
When Sage was three days old I met a woman with a new baby of her own. She was my first mama friend and though our parenting styles were different, they were close enough that we clicked (on parenting and other things) and have been friends ever since.
I remember us sitting at the park as our gaggle of children grew from two to four then more, dreaming that someday (maybe) we would be able to leave for an entire night to just be grownups.
It was an abstract though, like flying to the moon.
But maybe. Someday. Perhaps. We kept the dream alive as each little one grew older and more independent.
Fast forward nearly fourteen years (What's the saying? "The days are long but the years are short.") and here we are with big kids standing where our babies once slept.
I no longer carry my old fear about seizures or that fear of what might happen if my child needs me and I'm not there. We're safe, we're whole. We're growing up. (Myself included.)
And for my kids the promise of a weekend with their papa is a rare and wonderful treat. (He doesn't make them do as many chores as I do, or so they report, and popcorn will surely appear on the menu at least once.)
And so once every year or so I steal away for some time alone.
The truth is I crave it now. Just a little space. Just for me.
Because there's no reason not to anymore.
And so with a mix of excitement and nerves I scheduled two nights away last weekend.
One solo night (to simple soak up the silence and work on my book) and one night with that same mama friend from so many years ago. It would be our fist time away without our kids; that thing we began dreaming of when our children were still babies, sleepily nursing away in our slings.
Life keeps unfolding. And just as we adapted to the 24/7 needs of a newborn, we adapt to the bigness of now and the freedom it affords. And so I loaded up the camper and drove away. All by myself. It was strange.
Being alone is a foreign space for me. So quiet, so free! I brought along a pile of favorite books and too much knitting, plus a laptop with a fully charged battery and a draft of my book saved to the hard drive. I had to stay focused as there was no way to charge my computer, so when I was done I was done.
Limits are nice.
And I wrote and I slept and I took care of only myself for that one glorious day.
On the second day my friend arrived and we reveled in uninterrupted conversations, hours of knitting, and a singular focus on ourselves and our friendship. What a rare and lovely treat that was!
And then it was done. I packed up the camper and said goodbye to the my friend, to the park, and to solitude of this retreat and headed back to the waiting arms of my family. Where I still want to be – 24/7 – but with some breaks now and again.
"The days are long but the years are short."
I couldn't agree more.